Would Americans accept a third presidential term?

Linley SandersData Journalist
September 18, 2020, 8:03 PM UTC

Most Americans (55%) strongly oppose changing the US Constitution to allow two-term presidents to run for a third presidential term. But Republicans (30%) are twice as likely as Democrats (14%) to be open to the change. 

A series of polls by YouGov of more than 8,000 Americans found that a majority of Democrats (66%) and Independents (59%) would strongly oppose allowing presidents to run for a third-term, while fewer than half of Republicans (45%) express the same level of opposition. About one in five (19%) Americans would be strongly or somewhat in favor of the change. 

The concept of a third presidential term made news when President Donald Trump said during a rally that if he wins re-election in November, he will "negotiate" a third presidential term "because we're probably — based on the way we were treated — we are probably entitled to another four after that."  

Half of Americans (50%) believe that the president was being serious in suggesting he was entitled to a third term, with seven in 10 Democrats (71%) taking him at his word. Only about one-third (32%) of Republicans believe he was being literal, however. A plurality of Republicans (50%) say he was not being serious in his suggestion that he is entitled to a third presidential term. 

Related: Three in four Americans expect mass protests if Donald Trump is re-elected

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Methodology: YouGov asked 8,844 US adults: “The Constitution stipulates that "no person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice." Would you support or oppose the Constitution being changed to allow presidents who have already been elected twice to run for a third term?” and “President Donald Trump said during a rally on Saturday that if he wins re-election in November, he will "negotiate" a third presidential term "because we're probably — based on the way we were treated — we are probably entitled to another four after that." Do you believe President Trump was being serious in his suggestion that he is entitled to a third presidential term, or not?” The survey was carried out online September 14 – 15, 2020. Data were weighted on age, education, gender, race, and Census region to be nationally representative of adults in the United States.    

Image: Getty